A slightly different version of a classic fairytale. Enjoy! Rated PG-13 for slight sexuality.

-- Pale Companion


It all started out well enough, as fairy tales usually do. Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived two beautiful princesses. Because their kingdoms lay across a field from one another, they were playmates from birth, and spent the majority of their childhood together. Their names were Tula and Annette. Tula's hair was as dark as a raven's wing, and her eyes were emerald forests. Annette's hair was the color of glistening snow, and her eyes were pools of crystal blue. As they grew, they became even more beautiful, exact opposites in every way, and yet they were known for their companionship throughout the land. Indeed, it was said that the friendship between the two princesses was what kept the two kingdoms in peace.
Annette, of the kingdom on the left side of the meadow, was known especially for her kindness and grace. One day, she was wandering the meadow gathering daisies, when she came upon a group of schoolboys throwing stones at a kitten. Rushing out in front of the barrage, 6-year-old Annette took up the kitten in her arms and shielded it from the rocks with her body. Tula, of the opposite kingdom, was known for her strength and courage, and when she came upon the same scene, she promptly beat the offending boys to a quivering pulp. Together, the princesses were a match for any childhood villain to be found.
Alas, any villain except one. North of the field between the kingdoms, in a decrepit old tower there lived a decrepit old hag who the good people of the two kingdoms often referred to as a witch. She longed to be more than a simple witch; she dreamed of being an evil stepmother or even a wicked queen. However, confined to the role of magical hag, she decided to go about her witchy business and cast a curse. One day, Tula, after roaming the countryside with a large stick looking for trouble, happened upon the tower of the old witch. As there was no door (the witch rarely left her home, and she could fly anyway), Tula stood at the wall and banged on it with her stick. The witch, rudely awakened from a dream of world domination, scuttled over to the window and found her opportunity. At last, she could perform her duties as a villainess!
"Well, hello, dearie.what is it you desire?" she called down to the child.
"Aren't you a witch?" Tula called back bluntly.
"Erm. Well. Yes. It's beside the point. Are you, as you seem to be, a handsome young prince?" asked the witch, for her eyesight was failing in her old age.
"No," replied Tula, vaguely offended.
"Well, you'll have to do," mumbled the hag, and began her incantation. After several verses and a strange wiggling motion of the witch's fingers, little Tula was transformed into an ugly, green frog.
"There! Now to finish it," cackled the witch. "Only by.hmm.only by the kiss of.um.yes, that's it, true love, shall you be returned to your human form!" And the deed was done. Tula hopped away with a confused ribbit, and disappeared into a bog.
News of the young princess's disappearance spread quickly across the two kingdoms, and though all grieved, none was more heartbroken than Annette. Time passed, and Tula's whereabouts remained a mystery. After a year, her mournful kingdom pronounced her dead, and everyone wept (except for the boys with the stones, who silently thanked the heavens for their deliverance). Annette fell into a long period of despair, and no one in the kingdom could lift her spirits.
Ten years passed. How Tula, as a frog, remained alive that long, no one knows, but she was still hopping around in the bog on Annette's 17th birthday. Both kingdoms showered the princess with gifts, but though she smiled her beatific smile and thanked them all, her heart still wept deep within her. After the celebration, Annette's parents, the king and queen, called her into their chamber for a talk.
"Darling, you really must forget about Tula," her mother said gently.
"We think it's time for you to consider marriage," interrupted her father nervously. "Perhaps a nice young man from the neighboring kingdom?" For it was true, without Tula and Annette's friendship, the relationship between the kingdoms was slowly withering.
"But I---" began Annette, but her parents would hear nothing else but her consent and so she resigned herself to go and look for a husband.
She wandered out into the field and gazed at the other kingdom. Perhaps she would have to choose a husband from that lot, but not today. She turned instead and headed north towards a place where she and Tula used to play. As she wandered, she thought of many things, too many to possibly be recorded here, so we'll suffice it to say she thought so much she lost track of where she was going. She ended up near the old witch's tower, but being more cautious than young Tula, she steered clear of it and headed east toward a small swamp.
She found herself a nice patch of grass next to the lilies and settled down to think some more, but out away from her duties as a princess her emotions got the better of her and she wept like a child. A little green frog that had been sitting near one of the lilies heard the commotion and hopped out to see what the fuss was about. Annette heard it and stopped crying.
"Hello." she ventured softly, unsure of herself, for though she had often felt a connection with animals, she had never actually spoken to one before. She made sure no one was listening and continued. "I'm sorry if I startled you. I shouldn't cry. I'm too old for that." She brushed the tears from her eyes in such a graceful way that the little frog hopped closer.
"I'm too old for that. In fact, I'm old enough that all I should be doing now is searching for a husband. But I don't want a husband." The frog hopped a little closer still, and when Annette lay down her hand it hopped right in. She brought the little animal up to her face to inspect it.
"What a darling you are. I'd rather marry you than any prince." And inexplicably, Annette bent forward and kissed the little frog.
What followed was the very definition of chaos. In the second Annette's lips touched those of the frog, the amphibian transformed back into its true shape---that of a young woman with dark hair and green eyes. Annette found herself lip to lip with another girl no older than herself, and like many would do in this particular situation, she panicked. So did the other girl. They quickly backed away from one another, wiping their mouths and trying to recollect themselves before they attempted introductions.
"I.uh.I." stuttered Annette, not quite certain of what would be appropriate to say.
"I'm human! I'm human again!" cried the girl, and then, realizing her own nudity, curled into a ball and stared suspiciously at Annette. "What's going on?"
"I have no idea," replied Annette, just as bewildered. "My name is Annette. You are.?"
"Tula," the girl replied, and then they both gasped.
"It can't be."
"Are you..?"
"Thank heaven!"
And the two princesses embraced each other joyously, reunited at last.
"I thought you were dead." Annette murmured.
"Well, you see, I met this witch, and she thought I was a prince, and she turned me into a frog. And that's the way I've spent the last.how long has it been?"
"Ten years."
"Dear lord. Well.uh.thank you for.saving me." Tula's eyes found the grassy floor and stayed there, embarrassed.
"We should find you some clothes," said Annette, ever practical. However hard this should have been in a bog, it was accomplished with relative ease, as Annette discovered a pair of men's trousers and a half- tattered blouse tucked inside a tree-stump. After Tula dressed, the two sat down to catch up further.
"The whole kingdom thought you were dead. We all mourned for you. I was certain I'd never see you again." Annette took Tula's hand and smiled. "You can't imagine how glad I am you're back."
Tula smiled back. "Well, it was getting kind of old, being a frog and all. I'm glad too. Let's go home." And with that, they set off for the kingdoms.
Annette and Tula arrived in Annette's kingdom first, to tell her parents the good news and to find Tula some 'proper' clothing. Annette had never seen anything as comical as the looks she received when she returned with another young girl dressed as a boy at her side. They arrived at the palace feeling slightly insecure, and hurried inside to see the king and queen. However, their reception was not what Annette and Tula had expected.
"You say this girl is what? The princess Tula? Preposterous," fumed the king.
"Dear, princess Tula is dead. This is just some girl from the swamps," said the queen, with some measure of distaste.
"Send a message to her parents. Ask them to come here and see her. I'm sure they'll know their own daughter," requested Annette.
"It will have to wait until tomorrow," proclaimed the king. "Until then, this girl will remain outside of my palace."
"She will remain with me," retorted Annette, and taking Tula by the hand, stormed out of the hall.
"I can't believe they don't recognize you," sighed the princess.
"It's been awhile, Annette. When my parents arrive, they'll know me. Until then, what are we going to do?" Tula looked around her warily, as the guards were eyeing her with something between interest and fear.
"I'll go and fetch us some dinner. Meet me in my room. You do remember the way?"
Tula nodded. "I'll see you there."
Annette returned to her bedroom with two platters of food from the kitchen, and while Tula ate hungrily (after a diet of nothing but flies, she was famished), Annette fished around in her dresser for something pretty for Tula to wear. After a moment, she proffered a blue gown and a black bodice, and Tula thanked her and dressed while Annette ate. After they'd finished their supper, they sat together on Annette's bed in silence. The evening light was coming in the window, casting its sleepy glow on everything in the room. Annette was aware of a funny feeling rising in her as she looked at Tula. It had appeared the moment she had known Tula to be herself, and had been rising ever since. Now it was uncomfortable. She shuffled her feet and looked at the floor.
"Something wrong?" Tula asked. Annette looked up.
"How did I save you?" she asked quietly.
"You.uh.you.kissed me, I think." Tula looked nervous.
"And that broke the curse?"
Tula shrugged. "I guess so."
"What exactly was the curse, Tula?" The dark-haired princess didn't respond. Annette took a deep breath and ventured even further. "Have you thought about that kiss at all?"
"If you're worried about it being your first, it's ok, it didn't count. Didn't mean anything," Tula replied nonchalantly.
"Didn't it?" responded Annette, and then indignantly, "What makes you think that was my first kiss?"
Tula giggled. "Wasn't it?"
".Yes. But how did you know?"
"Well it wasn't very good," Tula laughed.
"It was your first kiss too, you know. You weren't very good either," replied Annette haughtily. And then their eyes met, and simultaneously they both leaned in, closed their eyes, and kissed. After a moment, Annette broke it off. "We can't do this."
"Why?" Tula's eyes were on fire.
"It's not right." Annette's eyes had tears in them.
"No? You wanna know what that curse was? I may have been a frog, but I still heard it loud and clear. Only by the kiss of true love shall you be returned to your human form. And I." Tula's voice faltered. "I always loved you."
"Tula.I." Annette began, and then decided words were not the right response. She leaned in and kissed Tula again, and that kiss was the strongest of them all.
In the morning, the maidservant was slightly confused to find both girls fast asleep in Annette's queen sized bed, but shook it off and woke them for breakfast. They ate in silence in the grand dining hall, but the looks between the two of them and the small smiles they sent each other from behind their golden goblets spoke volumes. When the king and queen of Tula's kingdom arrived, Annette and Tula had already hatched their plan.
"Good heavens.Tula, darling!" cried Tula's mother, and rushed to her daughter. The bewildered father embraced her as well, and the king and queen of Annette's kingdom bowed quite low and flushed quite red.
They all sat down to a celebratory brunch, and that was when Annette spoke up.
"Father, mother, your royal highnesses," she began, addressing all the adults at the table. "It is indeed time for me to choose my partner to rule."
"Your husband," interrupted her father. Annette went on.
"And as you say, my partner must belong to the opposite kingdom, so as to join our two kingdoms together in peace."
"Yes, a splendid idea," remarked Tula's father. "Who did you have in mind? I know many handsome young men---"
"Well, it would certainly be best if I married a royal." Annette glanced at Tula, who concealed a smirk under her napkin.
"This is true," said her mother, "but the king and queen have no son, darling."
"No. So I guess I'll have to marry Tula."
All four regents spat out their drinks at once.
"You'll what?" boomed Annette's father.
"Impossible!" cried Tula's.
"But best for both kingdoms," reminded Annette. The kings and queens exchanged looks of bewilderment. "It's certainly never been done before," mumbled Tula's mother. "I've never heard of anything like it," whispered Annette's. "But it could work," said Tula, winking at Annette. And after a certain amount of debate, and several threats, it was decided that Tula and Annette could marry, if only to unite the kingdoms and save the land. And so the two kingdoms were united under the rule of the two princesses (now queens), and although it took awhile for the good people of the kingdoms to grow accustomed to the idea of two queens, in the end everyone was happy. Tula and Annette were finally together, and all was well in the land. Except for up in the old tower, where the decrepit hag kicked over her cauldron and swore of magic forever.